Caris Life Sciences scores $830M to grow AI-powered genetic sequencing platform

For most medtech startups, the dream of raising a billion dollars is nothing but a castle in the air. Caris Life Sciences, meanwhile, just made itself at home in that castle after surpassing the 10-figure mark over the course of two funding rounds barely six months apart.

The most recent round closed with a whopping $830 million total. It was led by Sixth Street and included participation from all investors in Caris’ previous financing—which brought in $310 million last October—as well as several new investors.

Significant contributions came from Coatue, Silver Lake, Fidelity Management & Research Company and funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates. The other dozen backers included Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Millennium Management, Neuberger Berman Funds, Highland Capital Management and more.

RELATED: Caris launches whole tumor RNA transcriptome profiling test

The new funding values the Irving, Texas-based company at more than $7.8 billion and brings its total external funding since 2018 to about $1.3 billion. Before its two most recent rounds, Caris snagged $150 million in debt financing in October 2018 from Sixth Street, which also contributed an additional $75 million in debt financing to the 2020 round.

Caris will use the latest financing to rapidly accelerate the development of its technology. The Caris platform performs exome, transcriptome and cancer proteome sequencing, profiling all 22,000 genes in a patient’s DNA and RNA and identifying cancer-related pathogens, bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Additionally, earlier this year, Caris expanded its platform’s offerings to include human leukocyte antigen genotype reporting. Since they’re responsible for activating cancer-fighting T-cells, HLA genes are directly linked to cancer development and can indicate how a patient will react to certain immunotherapies.

Once the sequencing is complete, the platform uses artificial intelligence to analyze the resulting data. That analysis helps oncologists create a highly personalized treatment plan for each cancer patient. Moving forward, with the help of the new funding, Caris will further develop the platform for use in diagnosing early-stage cancers, in addition to guiding precision treatments.

RELATED: Viome scores FDA breakthrough label for cancer-screening, microbiome-sequencing AI platform

“This will allow the delivery of transformative applications of molecular science, including the launch of our early detection (stage 1 and stage 2) blood-based pan-cancer test, providing results for every patient with no non-shedders,” Caris CEO David Halbert said in a statement.

Beyond Caris’ genomic sequencing platform, the company has also cultivated a range of software designed to streamline drug trials. Caris' Pharmatech division includes offerings for connecting biopharma companies with appropriate trial sites, activating those sites and recruiting participants.